Where did all the Country bands go?

Alabama’s Randy Owen was recently quoted saying, “I Want to Hear More Bands.” This message comes from lead singer of the band Alabama, which was one of the main reasons bands were so popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Owen takes a look around and realizes that Country music is growing away from the appeal of bands.

Today in Country music, most artists are individual performers known only by their own name. The shift from bands to individual artists was gradual over time, but was very clear by the early 2000s. The reason for this may be the appeal of fame and being the center of attention. For the most part, famous country artists receive more attention than country bands, because of the focus only being on one single person. Now, there aren’t many country bands that I can currently think of, because of this shift.

In a different interview with Randy Owen, he tells of how he is saddened by the low number of “self contained bands” nowadays. A “self contained band” is one where the band members actually play their own instruments and write their own songs (which is almost unheard of today). Owen tells of how it shouldn’t be this way, and I agree with him. When there is a band (or even an individual artist) playing and you know that they play their own instruments and write their own songs, it feels much more genuine.

Random (but authentic) Country band

Most artists have songwriters that will write the majority of their music, and this has become the standard (at least for big name artists). Many Country artists still play their own instruments though, especially the guitar, which is great. Music has seemed to drift away from bands and pushed the focus onto the individual. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, there is something about seeing a real band on stage and seeing how they interact with each other and the crowd is just incredible, and it feels authentic. It shows that they care more about the group as a whole than the individual, and I feel that it gives the audience a sense of togetherness and gets them more involved in the performance.

There will probably not be a shift back to the era of bands, like it was in the 80s and 90s. This is because times are changing and most fans have come to like the idea of individual artists more and more, which is also completely fine. It’s all about the audience and giving them what they want, and the shift from bands to individuals (and vice versa) isn’t a bad thing by any means. It is just something different, and it is what we come to expect now in these changing times.

Rascal Flatts


Filed under New Traditionalism, News

4 Responses to Where did all the Country bands go?

  1. Mark: I enjoyed this post, and it reminds me of the research that Zane, Holly, and MaKayla did earlier in the semester about “new traditionalism.” Alabama believed it was making an important contribution to country music by bringing the “band” back into style. Today, I can think of a couple groups that “look” like bands–for example Lady Antebellum–but actually they are a couple of lead performers supported by interchangeable musicians. What about the Zac Brown Band?

  2. Zane Gurwitz

    Mark, I could not agree more with your post. I think country music has taken a complete 180 since the 80’s. To me it does not feel like genuine country anymore. Although I can think of a few bands that are great, they just do not get the same credit as they used too. This includes Turnpike Troubadours, Zach Brown Band, Randy Rogers Band, and Josh Abbott Band. I like how you use Alabama in this article because I have done a lot of research on them this semester and they truly are one of the best country music bands of all time.

  3. Jessica Jakobeit

    I think it is very interesting that you bring up the fact that there are less bands. In fact, I recently went to a country concert where there was a really great new band that I had never heard of until recently. The Cadillac Three band is really good and I am not sure if a lot of country music listeners listen to them. At the same country concert there was a guy there who I had heard of before but I was not sure from where. His name is Kristian Bush. The reason I had heard of him before was because he was from the band called Sugarland. I wonder why he decided to go solo, but maybe it is because he would rather stand out and be his own artist.

  4. Elizabeth Stack

    I agree that there are less bands than there once were, but I’m hoping this is starting to change. Blake Shelton has talked about how he hates that there is less collaboration in country music now, and more bands are starting to form For example The Pistol Annies, and the Swon Brothers, and Little Big Town has been successful for quite a while. I love bands because I feel like they have more opportunity to explore different sounds and styles, because they have a less concrete expectation/stereotype of what their sound should be in comparison to solo artists. One of my favorite sounds in country music is a really tight harmony that you just can’t get with a solo artist. At least not consistently.

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